When you think of a "gamer," you might imagine the stereotype of teenagers or thirtysomething guys intensely playing Xbox or Playstation for hours at a time.
But thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, a wider swath of people are playing games—even if a majority of them would not call themselves "gamers," a new study finds.
More than half of American smartphone owners (55 percent) play mobile games to pass the time, according to the Mobile Gamer Insights Report, a survey of 2,000 smartphone owners commissioned by AppLovin, an independent mobile games and growth platform. While those surveyed play mobile games an average of four times a week, nearly two-thirds do not identify as "gamers."
For AppLovin Chief Marketing Officer Katie Jansen, this discrepancy between how many people play mobile games and those who identify as "gamers" can be explained by the difference in time commitment for traditional and mobile games. While traditional "gamers" may spend hours sitting in one location playing on a PC or console game system, mobile game players could spend mere minutes playing a game on their iPhone as they commute to work.
"When you're playing it in little bits and pieces, you're not necessarily thinking about it that way," Jansen said. "Mobile is such a part of our daily lives."
Regardless of the reason for playing mobile games—whether it be to pass time, to relax or to keep minds active—all ages play them. About one-third (33 percent) of baby boomers, or adults 55 and older, play mobile games everyday, the survey found. Meanwhile, 39 percent of Generation Z respondents (ages 16-24) play everyday.
Mobile games cut across gender lines, too. Eight out of ten (81 percent) of men surveyed play mobile games, and even more women (86 percent) play. Additionally, 40 percent of women and 32 percent of men who have played a game on their smartphone play daily.
The pervasiveness of mobile games amongst users has led to a boom in revenue for the industry as a whole. The $61.3 billion in revenue generated by mobile games in 2018 exceeded the combined earnings of games on traditional video game consoles ($12.7 billion) and PC ($35.7 billion), according to Nielsen's SuperData.
Games comprised 36 percent of all mobile app downloads last year and 77 percent of mobile app revenue, according to SensorTower, a company that compiles data and insights on the mobile app industry. Moreover, the company said that 83 of the top 100 grossing mobile apps around the world last year were games.
Casual puzzles such as "Angry Birds" and "Candy Crush Saga" have played a large role in fueling this rise of mobile gaming, as they are the most popular type of mobile game, AppLovin's report finds. And the market has reflected this momentum: Sensor Tower's research indicated a 20 percent increase in casual mobile game downloads in 2018 across both Google Play and the App Store's top 10 mobile games as compared to 2017.
Part of the draw of casual games is that users can play them in tandem with various activities, such as watching television, says Jansen.
"It's really easy—you can do it on top of other things," Jansen said.
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